Widow who lost husband in terror attacks becomes citizen

Saturday, September 25th 2004, 11:12 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ A Bangladesh native who lost her husband in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York became a U.S. citizen on Friday.

With mixed emotions, Baraheen Ashrafi joined 86 new citizens during a citizenship ceremony at a federal courthouse in Oklahoma City.

``Today's the day I was waiting for a long time,'' said Ashrafi, her hair carefully concealed behind an off-white scarf.

``I am happy and sad because my husband is not with me,'' she said, her voice rising and tightening as she tried without success to fight back tears.

Citizenship ceremonies are held at the courthouse about once a month, and one immigrant is chosen to speak for each class, said Barry Royce of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

``It just happened she had this story and there was just no question that she should be one of the speakers,'' Royce said.

Two days after her husband's death, Ashrafi gave birth to their son, leaving her a single mother with two young children. A daughter, now 9, also was born in New York.

Ashrafi decided to move the family to Oklahoma because a sister already lived here.

``Oklahoma is kind of a quiet place. Less expensive,'' she said in a corner of the courtroom after the ceremony as new citizens from 28 countries posed for pictures with small U.S. flags.